With midterms and 2016 looming, House uproar shows GOP still unable to solve immigration woes

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Midterm elections that will decide control of the Senate are three months away, and the 2016 presidential campaign will start in earnest soon after. Yet the Republican Party still can’t figure out what to do about illegal immigration.

It’s the issue that vexed Republicans as much as any in their 2012 presidential loss. It’s the one problem the party declared it must resolve to win future presidential races. And it still managed to bedevil the party again last week, when House Republicans splintered and stumbled for a day before passing a face-saving bill late Friday night.

The fiasco proved anew that a small number of uncompromising conservatives have the power to hamper the efforts of GOP leaders to craft coherent positions on key issues -- including one that nearly two-thirds of Americans say is an important to them personally, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released last week.

"It would be very bad for Republicans in the House not to offer their vision of how they would fix the problem," South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said when the initial House bill on immigration collapsed. While Republicans in the House are able to reject the proposals of Democrats, Graham said, that’s not enough: "At least they have a vision.


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While often a flashpoint issue among Republicans in their primaries this year, the party could get a grace period of sorts in November. Immigration appears likely to have only a modest impact on the roughly 10 Senate races that will determine control of the chamber. The possible exception is the race between Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and GOP Rep. Cory Gardner in Colorado, where Hispanic voters made up 14 percent of the electorate in 2012.

American nurse sick with Ebola to leave West Africa, land in U.S. Tuesday

ATLANTA (AP) -- A second American medical missionary stricken with the often deadly Ebola virus is expected to be flown Tuesday to the U.S. for treatment, following a colleague who was admitted over the weekend to Emory University Hospital’s infectious disease unit.

Top American public health officials continue to emphasize that treating Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly in the U.S. poses no risks to the public as West Africa grapples with its worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history.

"The plain truth is that we can stop Ebola," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaking Sunday on ABC’s "This Week. "We know how to control it: hospital infection control and stopping it at the source in Africa."

Brantley and Writebol served on the same medical mission team that was treating Ebola patients in Liberia. Also spreading in Guinea and Sierra Leone, the outbreak has infected more than 1,300 people in West Africa, killing at least 729 of them.

Liberian officials said a medical evacuation plane would transport Writebol to the United States early Tuesday.

Earthquake in southern China kills at least 367, injures more than 1,800

BEIJING (AP) -- A strong earthquake in southern China’s Yunnan province toppled thousands of homes on Sunday, killing at least 367 people and injuring more than 1,800.

About 12,000 homes collapsed in Ludian, a densely populated county located around 277 miles northeast of Yunnan’s capital, Kunming, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The magnitude-6.1 quake struck at 4:30 p.m. at a depth of 6 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Its epicenter was in Longtoushan township, 14 miles southwest of the city of Zhaotong, the Ludian county seat.

Ma Liya, a resident of Zhaotong, told Xinhua that the streets there were like a "battlefield after bombardment." She added that her neighbor’s house, a new two-story building, had toppled, and said the quake was far worse than one that struck the area in 2012 and killed 81 people.

"The aftermath is much, much worse than what happened after the quake two years ago," Ma said. "I have never felt such strong tremors before."

Ukraine’s army advances on rebel stronghold of Donetsk

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Fighting raged Sunday on the western outskirts of Donetsk as the advancing Ukrainian army tried to seize control of the rebel stronghold. In danger of being encircled, the separatists renewed their calls for Russia to send troops to their aid.

To support their operations, the pro-Russian fighters have been confiscating vehicles and food from residents and businesses in Donetsk. The center of the major industrial city is all but deserted, with few people or cars on the streets and most stores and restaurants closed.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation, Alexei Dmitrashkovsky, told The Associated Press that government soldiers were fighting Sunday to hold positions they had taken on the edge of Donetsk, but were meeting resistance.

In the part of the city closest to the fighting, an artillery shell hit a school overnight, but no one was reported hurt.

"The shell went through the roof and exploded inside the building, setting off a fire, but we still don’t know who fired it," said Dmitry Levonchik, a 45-year-old coal miner. "Who needs this war? What are they fighting for?"

Supreme Court unwilling to step into legal fight over secrecy surrounding execution drugs

WASHINGTON (AP) -- No one on the Supreme Court objected publicly when the justices voted to let Arizona proceed with the execution of Joseph Wood, who unsuccessfully sought information about the drugs that would be used to kill him.

Inmates in Florida and Missouri went to their deaths by lethal injection in the preceding weeks after the high court refused to block their executions. Again, no justice said the executions should be stopped.

Even as the number of executions annually has dropped by more than half over the past 15 years and the court has barred states from killing juveniles and the mentally disabled, no justice has emerged as a principled opponent of the death penalty.

This court differs from some of its predecessors. Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall dissented every time their colleagues ruled against death row inmates, and Justices Harry Blackmun and John Paul Stevens, near the end of their long careers, came to view capital punishment as unconstitutional.

"They’re all voting to kill them, every so often. They do it in a very workmanlike, technocratic fashion," Stephen Bright, a veteran death penalty lawyer in Georgia, said of the current court.

Discussion in Toledo turns to long-term solutions for Lake Erie algae on 2nd day without water

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- The toxins that contaminated the drinking water supply of 400,000 people in northwest Ohio didn’t just suddenly appear.

Water plant operators along western Lake Erie have long been worried about this very scenario as a growing number of algae blooms have turned the water into a pea soup color in recent summers, leaving behind toxins that can sicken people and kill pets.

In fact, the problems on the shallowest of the five Great Lakes brought on by farm runoff and sludge from sewage treatment plants have been building for more than a decade.

While residents around Ohio’s fourth-largest city were being told to avoid drinking tap water for a second day, discussion began to center around how to stop the pollutants fouling the lake that supplies drinking water for 11 million people.

"People are finally waking up to the fact that this is not acceptable," Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said.

TS Bertha moving over Turks and Caicos, southeast Bahamas after raking the Dominican Republic

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands (AP) -- Tropical Storm Bertha was moving over the Turks & Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas on Sunday after emerging from the Dominican Republic, where overflowing rivers led to the temporary evacuation of dozens of families.

As the storm system swirled over the British Caribbean dependency of the Turks and Caicos, its maximum sustained winds were measured at about 45 mph (75 kph), but some strengthening was expected over the next two days. Bertha was moving northwest at 18 mph (30 kph) with tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 160 miles (260 kilometers).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was likely to curve to the northeast and move parallel to the U.S. eastern seaboard without hitting the mainland. It was also expected to steer clear of the mid-Atlantic British territory of Bermuda later in the week.

Turks & Caicos residents wary of a possible blow from Bertha pulled boats ashore or moored them at marinas in the tourism-dependent archipelago that has little natural protection from powerful storm surges. Tourism Director Ralph Higgs said hoteliers were "taking the threat of the storm seriously."

Some American vacationers on the resort-lined Grace Bay strip on the chain’s main island of Providenciales said they were weren’t worried about the approaching tropical system.